About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

Why Women Do Not Have the Priesthood

Over the Christmas break, the Bensons in true geek fashion, undertook a marathon of watching the entire Star Wars movies, including the cartoons. We did this in part,  because Tex, Piano Man, and Flash are big Star Wars Fans; also as a fun way to remember Mike, who was a Star Wars geek. Hong Mei loves to watch movies  or TV and she  identifies with either the villain or the dominant male hero.  Jie Jie and I hoped she would instead want to be  Princess Leia or Padme Amidala. Instead, in typical Hong Mei fashion, she became a big fan of  Darth Vader.

Hong Mei as Darth Vader and Flash as Unfortunate Rebel

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Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: The Gathering

Because of my late husband Mike’s and my DNA tests, the name clues I have found in our genealogy, and  our inherited Sephardic Jewish autoimmune disease , the perception of our  ancestral Mormon pioneers as a group of British and other Western Europeans; is now clarified, as a gathering of multicultural peoples living amongst native Western Europeans.  I believe the glue that holds together the diverse genetic background of our ancestors is Judaism.

As “strangers in a strange land”, the devout Jew, crypto, and converso were tossed to and fro on the waves of uncertainty. Never feeling secure in their host environments; knowing their fate, lives, and fortunes could change on the whim of the Christian or Muslim majority; their support system was fractured and faith wavered. The Converso/Crypto Sephardim (Mediterranean Jews), Mizrahi (Asian Jews) and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descendants  who were disassembled by the tolerance of Protestantism, persecution, poverty, and false messiahs; had all been prepared by God, to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hardly think my Mormon pioneer ancestors are all that unique. Many of  the classic Melungeon/ Sephardic names are familiar to me. I have glanced at a few of the early families in the church and I see Sephardic Jewish given and surnames among them.


Salt Lake Tabernacle Star of David

Because of my research, I bear a strong witness to what Joseph Fielding Smith said:

The Lord said He would scatter Israel among the Gentile nations, and by doing so he would bless the Gentile nations with the blood of Abraham. Today we are preaching the gospel in the world and we are gathering out, according to the revelations given to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and and the other prophets, the scattered sheep of the House of Israel. These scattered sheep are coming forth mixed with Gentile blood from their Gentile forefathers. Under all the circumstances it is very possible that the majority, almost without exception, of those who come into the Church in this dispensation have the blood of two or more of the tribes of Israel as well as the blood of the Gentiles. Joseph Fielding Smith Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 volumes, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-66, 3:63

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Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: Utah History Encyclopedia Is Wrong- Joseph Smith Was Right, Orson Hyde Is of Jewish Ancestry

hydeI believe investigating the history of the Crypto and Converso Sephardic Jews has the capacity to impact how we view the history of the Church. For example, from the Utah History Encyclopedia, published by the University of Utah:

There is a popular myth that Orson Hyde was of Jewish ancestry, but careful investigation has uncovered no evidence this is true.

In contrast, an excerpt from the book by Ivan J. Barrett Joseph Smith and the Restoration:

In 1832 only a handful of Jews lived in Palestine, and those who did had no rights under Turkish rule. The roots of Zionism in the Jewish communities of Europe were barely stirring and the thought of Jews gathering at all was virtually unheard of let alone a return of the Jews to the Land of Palestine.  But from that very time on, the spiritual stirrings of the Zionist movement began in earnest. God was about to give special ‘key’ to modern prophets as he had done with ancient ones; ‘keys’ to move the nations. In 1831, only a year after the Church was organized by Joseph Smith, another young man with a prophetic call by the name of Orson Hyde, age 26, of JEWISH ANCESTRY, was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the Prophet Joseph Smith.  When Joseph laid his hands on the head of Orson Hyde he gave him a unique blessing where in he prophesied the following: “In due time thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the House of Israel; and by thy hands shall the Most High do a great work, which shall prepare the way and greatly facilitate the gathering of that People.”

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